Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lights Out by Travis Freeman - REVIEWED


About the Book:
WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT—PLAY HARDER.

Travis Freeman plunged into a world of darkness at 12 years old. A rare occurrence of a routine illness stole his sight, leaving the small-town Kentucky boy’s dreams of football and fun languishing on the sidelines.

Having given his heart to Jesus merely a year before the illness, Travis knew one thing: God was still the light for his life.

That life story is now the inspiration for a major motion picture, “23 BLAST” that hits theatres in October 2014. Starring Dylan Baker (SPIDERMAN, THE GOOD WIFE) and Mark Hapka (DAYS OF OUR LIVES, CRIMINAL MINDS), the film focuses on Travis’s football career playing Center for the Corbin Redhounds – a team that went on to make the playoffs.

Yet there is even more wisdom and hope for us to find in a full telling of Travis Freeman’s story. So much more to hear that couldn’t be included in The Today Showand Dateline coverage of his football exploits.

This graduate of the University of Kentucky and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary now joins with seasoned writer Rebeca Seitz to share his story in his own words. His is a story that is destined to turn the lights on for millions of readers.

My Thoughts:
We’re a disabled people….Disability does not equal inability…But we aren’t done.  We have an ability to be conduits of hope, kindness, love, joy, peace, and inspiration to a crippled world.  We can be the oasis in some one’s desert.”  ( p. 9-10)

Do not allow circumstance to tell you about God.  Let God tell you what to think of your circumstance.”  (p. 148)

Lights Out….what a treasure!!  What a spiritual challenge!  Oh, dear reader, you need to read this book!!  I’ve seen the film that is based on the book in preview – 23 Blast.  While the movie is definitely inspiring, Light’s Out takes Travis Freeman’s story to an entirely new and much deeper level!  To have your sight taken from you is a pretty brutal experience.  Many pieces of Travis’ story are painful to be sure.  But the light of his faith shines so brilliantly throughout his story that it almost makes your heart ache with gladness!!

Not only did Travis play football blind, but he played football well!  And I can’t help but be inspired by his parents’ faithfulness and sacrifice!  Travis is not the only hero in his story!!  His parents just take my breath away!  But Travis moved forward from football into an academic and spiritual realm that give even more strength and power to his testimony!!  He completed his PhD in ministry, and now preaches the gospel.  Again, the testimony of his parents to Travis’ close, personal relationship with Christ just inspires me greatly!
 
The Freeman family are such a great example of family, relationship, and an unshakable faith in the Father’s best plan for each of His children.  How thankful I am to know Christ as my Savior!  I hope I can trust God more completely every day.  Lights Out….don’t miss this story!!

About the Author:
Raised in foothills of Appalachian mountains, Travis spent his early childhood skiing its lakes with his parents on their boat, playing games with his friends, and dreaming of the day he’d play for the Corbin Redhounds.

At 12 years old, Travis became sick with what was eventually diagnosed as Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis (CST). It had settled and taken hold, masquerading for 9 days as nothing more than a severe headache. After the surgery that saved his life, Travis lost his eyesight.
After a year of adjusting to life in the dark, Travis joined the football team his 8th grade year as Center. Together, they won their conference championship. Travis continued to play all four years of high school. His story made its way to New York and was featured by The Today Show, Dateline, and other national media.

Travis obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Kentucky, where he also served its football team as an equipment manager. He went on to earn his Master of Divinity and Doctorate of Philosophy from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Travis is now an adjunct professor at University of the Cumberlands and serves as CEO of The Freeman Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the truth that disability does not equal inability

The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts - REVEIWED


About the Book:

A young mother battling cancer invites readers to embrace grace in every season of life.

Kara Tippetts knows the mundane but rich days of mothering four kids, the joy of watching her children grow.and the devastating reality of stage-four cancer. 

In The Hardest Peace, she invites readers to see the grace of the everyday in all seasons of life and to live well even when the living is hard. As the thousands of readers of her blog know, Tippetts explores the hardest questions of life with rare beauty and honesty. Most of all, she draws them back to the God who is present, in the ordinary and the suffering, and shapes every life into the best story of all.

Purchase a copy HERE.

My Thoughts:
But the redemption of my hard yesterdays gives me a softened heart to walk in my tomorrows.” (p. 35)

The Hardest Peace….it is a book that takes an honest look at the journey that leads each of us to the cross.  This is a beautiful, hard, haunting, and sometimes brutal book to read.  To hear the words of the author state that she may not live to see this book bound by the publisher…well, that’s hard. 

And yet, God has gifted Kara Tippetts with the gift of sharing His transforming power that has flooded her life.  Kara has looked into the face of suffering and found peace.  It is a rare gift indeed – peace.  Kara asks some very thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter.  If you take the time to consider and answer these questions, you will embark on your own journey of spiritual growth.  This book is a gift born out of brokenness.  However, it is this same brokenness that God uses to transform the lives of His children into bright lights of hope in this very dark and desperate world.


The Hardest Peace tells Kara’s story.  It tells the story of others in her life.  It is her story. It is every believer’s story.  You will laugh, you will weep, you will rejoice, you will be left searching for what God has to bring from your own story.  He does promise to bring good from what the enemy means for harm. Kara Tippetts’ life is a beautiful testimony of this truth.   How I praise God for her story!  My own story is different.  My crucible was different.  But I can testify to God’s faithfulness and I can rejoice in this Hardest Peace.  Hallaluia!!



Below you will find some examples of the questions found at the end of each chapter.  These will cause you to consider you life in a different way.

· In what ways are you a safe place for other people? Think of someone you know who is hurting. How can you pursue them and become a safe place for their messiness? Not save them necessarily, but be a safe place to fall?

· When you pray for God to lift you out of fear and dread, do you truly believe He can and will? Why or why not? What is an example of when He did, and what is an example of when you felt He didn't? How did He show you His goodness in both answers?

About the Author:


Kara Tippetts and her husband, Jason, have four children and lead a church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Cancer is only part of Kara's story. Her real fight is to truly live while facing a crushing reality. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Finding Mercy by Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Finding Mercy
David C. Cook (October 1, 2014)
by
Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael Landon Jr., son of television legend Michael Landon, is an award-winning storyteller, first in television and film, and now in books. His print works include One More Sunrise co-written with Tracie Peterson. 
****
Cindy Kelley is the co-author of the novel The Silent Gift, and Traces of Mercy. Her career as a screenwriter with long-time writing partner, Michael Landon, Jr., began with the adaptation of Margery Williams’ classic story, The Velveteen Rabbit, which had a theatrical release. Several television movies followed, most notably Love Comes Softly, (based on Janette Oke’s novel) which won a CAMIE Award and the Epiphany Prize for Movie Guide’s most inspirational television movie of 2003. Cindy and her husband, Jim, make their home in the Southwest; have three adorable grandchildren and four big dogs who rule the house.

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Mercy abandons Captain Elijah Hale to search for her true identity, he goes after her. With the threat that bounty hunters might be hot on her trail, Mercy does all she can to stay ahead of the danger, frustrating both the bad men who are after her—and Captain Hale who wants to find her and escort her safely home. But when she stumbles upon clues that help her learn who she is and where she's from, the danger escalates and she has to learn to keep her friends close and her enemies even closer—if she can determine which is which!




My Thoughts:

“…don’t forget, I am a woman who is prepared.”  (p. 379)

Mercy is a woman who overcomes a great deal in spite of amnesia that has stolen her past completely.  She knows only what she has recorded in her journal, and the information found there seems to draw more and more trouble.  Mercy’s story began in Traces of Mercy, and as her journey continues in Finding Mercy, it becomes quickly apparent that justice is something meted out by whomever can pay the highest price.

I thought Mercy’s troubles were pretty severe when she was almost hanged for treason, but with bounty hunters on her heels at every turn as she seeks to uncover her true identity, well….the woman has trouble galore!  I love the way her character develops as she uncovers the truth about her past and the decisions she must face as her life is put in jeopardy time and time again.


From the moment I understood that Mercy was a woman sharpshooter brave enough to fight in the Civil War, I was captured by her story.  I never dreamed it possible that the second book of the series would have more twists and turns than the first! What a thrill ride!  I highly recommend this book to everyone!  It is most excellent!

Read my review of Traces of Mercy HERE.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Finding Mercy, go HERE.


Monday, October 20, 2014

To Everything a Season by Lauraine Snelling - Reveiewed



About the Book:
Beloved Author Lauraine Snelling Returns Again to Her Popular Red River Valley Setting
Trygve Knutson is devoted to his family and his community. With his job on the construction crew, he is helping to build a future for the North Dakota town of Blessing. Though he loves his home, he sometimes dreams of other horizons--especially since meeting Miriam Hastings.

Miriam is in Blessing to get practical training to become an accredited nurse. She's been promised a position in the Chicago women's hospital that will enable her to support her siblings and her ailing mother. Although eager to return to her family, Miriam is surprised to find how much she enjoys the small town of Blessing. And her growing attachment to Trygve soon has her questioning a future she always considered set in stone.

When a family emergency calls Miriam home sooner than planned, will she find a way to return? If not, will it mean losing Trygve--and her chance at love--for good?

My Thoughts:
Lord God, I will not get through this without your peace.  I know the days ahead will be hard.”  (p.331)

I’ve followed Lauraine Snelling’s Red River of the North characters since the first book of the series was published years ago.  I actually remember having to wait until the next book was released to find out what happened to the Norwegian families in Blessing North Dakota.  I have walked through many trials with Ingenorg Bjorklund, and her prayer for God’s peace is as strong and foundational as breathing.  It wasn’t always so.  Thorliff, Pastor John Solberg, Haaken, Trygve, Astrid, Elizabeth, ----I know their lives from the moment they entered the world.  I know the struggles, the sacrifices, the losses, and triumphs.  When they tell Manny and Miriam they have a family in Blessing, I want to say, “It’s true! They are family!”  They feel like family to me!

Lauraine Snelling has brought her readers back into the Blessing family to introduce new members and watch the lives and faith of those familiar to us take the next step on their journey of life. Trygve and Miriam are the characters of the next step, but so much richness dwells within the lifework of the characters who are now like family.  Hard work, expansion, trials, overcoming tragedy it’s such a cycle of life, rich with God’s blessings!  I hate to come to the end of these books!


If you love rich, historical fiction, Lauraine Snelling has such a wealth of good book to offers her readers! And the Red River of the North series and all of the following books will allow you to experience God’s family in a very real way.  Such strong, enduring faith! Such trials! Such triumphs!  Don’t miss this!  To Everything a Season is not only the title of Snelling’s latest novel, but it is a daily truth we can trust.  God is in every single moment of every single season, and the character’s in Snelling’s books walk it out in a very real and transformational way! 

About the Author:

Lauraine Snelling, an award-winning author of fifty-plus books with sales of over 2 million copies, also writes for a wide range of magazines and teaches at writers' conferences across the country. She and her husband make their home in Tehachapi, California. Visit www.laurainesnelling.com

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin - REVIEWED



About the Book:
In Their Darkest Hour, Where Would Hope Be Found?In one life-changing moment, the lives of the exiles in Babylon are thrown into despair when a decree from the king's palace calls for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman, and child throughout the empire in less than one year.

Ezra, a quiet but brilliant scholar, soon finds himself called upon to become the leader of his people. Forced to rally an army when all his training has been in the Torah, he struggles to bring hope in a time of utter despair, when dreams of the future--of family and love--seem impossible.

In Keepers of the Covenant, acclaimed novelist Lynn Austin weaves together the struggles and stories of both Jews and Gentiles, creating a tapestry of faith and doubt, love and loss. Here, the Old Testament comes to life, demonstrating the everlasting hope displayed in God's unwavering love for His people.

My Thoughts:
"That's what we are going to Jerusalem to do.  To rebuild our nation according to His law. To be keepers of His covenant."  (p.325)

Lynn Austin has written a beautiful story of love and grace using the Old Testament book of Ezra as her foundational building block.  She weaves the rich history of the Jewish culture into every aspect of her story, and she builds her characters' lives into a believable community of relationships that become concrete in the reader's mind and heart.  The culture of the Jewish people, the Laws and the Torah that governed their lives, the many enemies that came against them time and time again, God's chosen people represent so much of the mercy and grace that came to earth in the person of Jesus in the New Testament. 

And Lynn Austin doesn't miss one instant of this intricate foreshadowing found in the book of Ezra. I have to be honest, I had to get my Bible out and read this book of the Old Testament. It is a book that is rich in story, of trouble, of redemption, just every aspect of God's mercy and grace that has been present in the lives of His people throughout time.  I fell in love with the constant faith of Ezra, and Devorah, of Reuben and Amina.  And what I loved most of all was that each had to be drawn into relationship with God.  Each had to endure sore trials, loss and deep wounds.  Each had to make the choice to continue to follow God.  It is such a precious and tender story of mercy and grace!

If you enjoy Biblically based fiction, you don't want to miss Keepers  of the Covenant!  You will understand how important a covenant relationship is from the Old to the New Testament....and even including your own personal covenant relationship with God through Jesus!  This is a fabulous, intricate story that you will remember for a very long time!

Purchase your copy HERE!


About the Author:
Lynn Austin has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide. She is an eight-time Christy Award winner and an inaugural inductee into the Christy Award Hall of Fame, as well as a popular speaker at retreats, conventions, women's groups, and book clubs. She lives with her husband in Michigan. Learn more at www.lynnaustin.org.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

An Insider's Guide to Spiritual Warfare - REVIEWED


About the Book:
Behind the backdrop of our daily lives, a hidden war is raging. The players are as powerful as they are invisible. What's on the line: your very heart and soul.

Are you ready for the battle?

After spending years as a medium, witch and ghost hunter, Kristine McGuire emerged from behind enemy lines to reclaim her identity in Christ. She brings unique insight, revealing Satan's 7 favorite battlefields as well as the most effective tactics he employs in the battles we face everyday.

In this essential guide to the spiritual war zone, you will learn 30 battle-tested strategies for victory from a spiritual warrior who has been there. Kristine's simple but powerful insights will empower you to engage your enemy without fear . . . and, in the power of Jesus, to win.

My Thoughts:

Spiritual warfare.  It is in the prayers we say or forget to say.  It is in the choice to be kind or hurtful.  It is in our work ethic or lack thereof.  It is in the people and relationships in whom we choose to invest or not to invest.  It is in the experiences, mundane or supernatural, we accept or deny. It is the causes we take up or reject.  Every day the battle wages.  You are a spiritual warrior.  The time has come.  Take up spiritual arms.  And with God’s help, make your stand.”  (p. 226)

WOW!  What a powerful book!! Beginning with a clear definition of what spiritual warfare is not, accurately defining what it IS, and then Biblically unpacking our identity as God’s children, identifying each piece of our armor and then accurately pinpointing common battlegrounds….well folks, Kristine McGuire leaves you fired up and ready to walk into battle!

I don’t mean that in a glib, cheerleader, shallow way.  I mean this book Biblically teaches you about spiritual warfare in a way that is clear, concise and easily understood.  The chapters are brief, and each one ends with questions to consider, Scripture to ponder and a practical way to apply what you’ve learned.  It is a powerful tool to equip every believer for battle!

I was able to identify some areas of false belief in my own life about this subject.  When the light of God’s word illuminated the truth, I was so amazed at what I was able to understand and apply!  I am very grateful to have this book in my library!!  I was introduced to Kristine’s work when I read Escaping the Cauldron:  Exposing Occult Influences in Everyday Life.  Her personal testimony is a sweet testimony to God’s faithfulness, mercy and grace! 

I am happy and excited to recommend this book to all believers!  Your life will be changed through the work of the Holy Spirit and the truth of God’s precious Word!!  Thank you Kristine for this powerful book!!

About the Author:
Kristine McGuire grew up in church but, as an adult, became immersed in the occult. In 2007 she renounced her occult affiliations and recommitted her life to Christ. Now, as a popular speaker and writer, she shares her unique insights with others. Her writing has been featured with Faithful Devotions, Praise & Coffee Magazine and Charisma News. She lives with her husband, Thom, in Grandville, Michigan. Visit her at www.kristinemcguire.com.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thunder by Bonnie S. Calhoun - REVEIWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Thunder (Stone Braide Chronicles)
Revell (October 7, 2014)
by
Bonnie S. Calhoun


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bonnie S. Calhoun is Owner/Director of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, owner/publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and the ACFW ‘2011 Mentor of the Year.”

She loves to write, but it doesn't make her happy unless there are the three B's...body count, blood, and blowing things up. She also has mad skills at coding HTML, and website design. And she lives in a log cabin in the woods with fifteen acres and a pond full of bass, though she'd rather buy fish at the grocery store. Bonnie shares her domain with a husband, a dog, and two cats, all of whom think she’s waitstaff!

Her sites are:
http://bonniescalhoun.com
https://www.facebook.com/bscalhoun
https://www.facebook.com/bonniescalhoun
https://www.goodreads.com/BonnieSCalhoun
http://www.pinterest.com/bonniecalhoun/
https://www.youtube.com/user/BonnieCalhoun

ABOUT THE BOOK

In post-apocalyptic America, Selah Chavez is crouched in long grass on a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city. It is the day before her eighteenth Born Remembrance, and she is hunting, though many people refuse to eat animal flesh, tainted by radiation during the Time of Sorrows. What Selah's really after are Landers, mysterious people from a land across the big water who survive the delirium-inducing passage in small boats that occasionally crash against the shoreline. She knows she should leave the capture to the men, but Landers bring a good price from the Company and are especially prized if they keep the markings they arrive with.

Everything falls to pieces when the Lander Selah catches is stolen by her brothers--and Selah wakes up the next morning to find the Lander's distinctive mark has suddenly appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her--Bohdi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell.

My Thoughts!
Short-term discomfort for long-term gain.”  (p.316)

Selah learns her true identity only after her actions enable her brothers to steal Bodhi Locke – her first effective capture of a Lander.  Selah’s brothers, Cleon and Raza, follow the leadership of the only father they’ve ever known, and begin to move immediately toward The Mountain where they will be able to receive financial reward for Bodhi’s capture.

These actions lead to much pain and discomfort for Selah.  She discovers that her course of action was determined long before she encounters Bodhi.  The long-term gain of Selah’s short-term discomfort becomes a conceivable vision only after traversing many dangerous and deadly paths that lead her into the heart of a world filled with illusion and deceit of the most evil sort.

Bonnie Calhoun has created a dystopian society that mirrors the timeless depravity of the world we inhabit today. She has created medical, political, physical and emotional scenes that resonate with the trials we have all faced from time to time.  Her characters must make sacrificial and dangerous choices time and time again for their survival – and the survival of others whom they know nothing about.  All they know for certain is that the Landers have been mercilessly hunted for decades, and the time has come to seek their freedom.


Thunder is a book to be experienced.  Traditionally, this has been a genre I’ve had difficulty understanding and being drawn to.  However, this is a book I couldn’t put down.  The characters are strong and compelling, and the challenges they face are equally complex and intriguing!  If you enjoy a book with lots of action, danger, intrigue and uncertainty, then pick up your copy of Thunder today! You will enjoy a thrill ride of adventure from cover to cover!


With evocative descriptions of a strange new world that combines elements of scientific advances, political intrigue, and wilderness survival, Bonnie S. Calhoun weaves a captivating tale of a world more like our own than we may want to admit.

You can read Tremors, the prequel to the series for FREE on Amazon HERE.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Thunder (Stone Braide Chronicles), go HERE